What I’m Thinking: Omitting the Process

The Gospel writer Mark had an interesting habit of leaving out things we’d really like to know, like how Jesus persuaded his first disciples to follow him.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel (Mark 1:14-20) in which Mark described the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. He returned to Galilee after his baptism by John, and Mark says that his basic message was this: “The realm of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the good news.”

If that message sounds familiar, well, it’s what John the Baptist’s message had been as well.

Then Mark described encounters between Jesus and Simon and Andrew, then James and John, at the end of which those four men left behind their occupation as fisherman and took up a new role as followers, disciples, co-workers with Jesus.

I’m always astonished at the things that Mark felt that he could leave out. What was there about that conversation with Jesus? All we get are the words, “Come along, and I will make you fish for people.” I’ll tell you, that probably wouldn’t have worked for me.

But Mark apparently was not interested in the process. What was important for Mark was the simple fact that Jesus’ presence and his persuasiveness was sufficient to attract people – whose lives were admittedly quite hard but had a certain level of certainty to them – Jesus could persuade them to leave that behind and take up with something that was far more uncertain, far more risky, but also far more connected, one believes, to their own spirits and souls.

“Come along, and I will make you fish for people.”

We in the Church have, for centuries, been interested in the process. How do we make something happen or how do we make it more likely that something will happen or how do we make the space for something to happen, something like becoming a follower of Jesus? That’s all well and good. We have to do that. We are not Jesus to summon people so immediately at a word.

But Mark, writing for a group of people that had already made that transition from whatever they had been before to a follower of Jesus – to Mark, it was the result that made the difference. The process was not something that he had to describe. And indeed, that remains important for us to today, that we leave behind the things that anchor us to the way things have been and the way things are, and that we take up the journey towards the things that could be, that might be, that God wills to be.

To hear those words, “Come along and I will make you fish for people” – to hear those words and find their connections in our souls, and leave the boats and their anchors behind, and follow Christ.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , | Posted on January 19, 2021

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